CMS Approval of Arkansas Waiver Will Harm Patients Living with a Lung Disease like Asthma, COPD, Lung Cancer
Patients will lose healthcare coverage under newly approved Arkansas Demonstration Waiver
(March 5, 2018) - LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
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Statement of American Lung Association Executive Vice President Martha Bogdan, in response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' approval of the Arkansas 1115 demonstration waiver, which includes a work requirement as a condition of healthcare:
"The American Lung Association in Arkansas is deeply disappointed in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of the waiver, as it jeopardizes access to healthcare for many residents in Arkansas, including our most vulnerable residents. Arkansas has made great strides in improving the health of its residents since the state expanded Medicaid and the uninsured rate dropped from 19 percent to 11 percent. Unfortunately, CMS's approval of the Arkansas demonstration waiver will harm patients. The waiver includes a work requirement to qualify for Medicaid coverage, which will result in loss of healthcare coverage for many. Those patients that still qualify for Medicaid after this waiver will lose access to the non-emergency transportation benefit - making it more difficult for patients who struggle to breathe to keep their appointments and get the care they need.
"The bottom line is that this waiver takes away key healthcare benefits from patients who need it the most. For those who are living with a lung disease like asthma, lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), losing healthcare coverage as a result of this waiver could have deadly consequences.
"The one bright spot in this waiver approval is the decision from CMS to deny the state’s request to reduce Medicaid expansion to residents making 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The Lung Association in Arkansas applauds this decision. While overall this waiver will harm patient access to care, the decision to uphold the 138 percent eligibility will somewhat lessen the blow.
"Arkansas has the third highest lung cancer incidence rate in the country and its adult smoking rate of 23.6 percent is also one of the highest in the country. This waiver will simply make these grim statistics worse, as fewer people will receive treatment to quit smoking and screenings to detect lung cancer at an early and more survivable stage.
"The American Lung Association in Arkansas believes everyone should have quality and affordable healthcare. We remain committed to working to improve the health of all our residents, including those on Medicaid who are disproportionately impacted by lung disease. With this newly approved waiver by CMS, the Arkansas Works program does not achieve this goal."
For media interested in speaking with an expert about the importance of quality and affordable healthcare and the Arkansas waiver, contact Britney Reddick at the American Lung Association at Britney.Reddick@Lung.org or 470-233-7030.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.